PSI and EPSU condemn the alarming increase in anti-LGBT+ violence and hate speech in Europe and Central Asia

LGBT solidarity

(21 February 2023) A report published this week outlines an alarming increase in anti-LGBT+ violence in Europe and Central Asia. According to the European regional organisation of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, the region saw a stark increase in violence against LGBT+ individuals, including planned attacks, random violence, and official harassment in an atmosphere of "rising and widespread hate speech from politicians, religious leaders, right-wing organisations and media pundits." The planned attacks included shootings at gay bars in Oslo, where two people were killed and 21 injured, and Bratislava, where another two people were targeted and killed. Public Services International and the European Public Services Union condemned the disturbing findings in ILGA-Europe's annual report.

In September, the right-wing Serbian government attempted to ban this year's EuroPride in Belgrade. It fanned the flames of intolerance to cater to its populist base and draw attention away from rising tensions with Kosovo.

Hate speech and deliberate misinformation in mainstream and fringe media, often conflating LGBT+ people with child abuse, fuels the violence. Russian-style laws that seek to prohibit age-appropriate discussion of LGBT+ people and sexuality are on the books in Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Lithuania. These laws, amounting to official contempt, legitimise anti-LGBT hate and violence. The European Commission is bringing Hungary in front of the European Court of Justice over its "gay propaganda" law.

"We urge all countries to take immediate steps to protect LGBT+ communities, human rights defenders, and workers and repeal all regressive homophobic and transphobic laws," said PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli. "This is not just a problem in Europe or Central Asia. We see alarming, even murders of LGBT+ people in many African countries, the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere. An important step is for countries that have not ratified ILO Convention 190 to do so without delay." The ILO convention establishes international standards for preventing and addressing harassment and violence in the world of work and includes recommendations on its impact on vulnerable groups, including LGBT+ workers.

"It's clear we need to redouble our efforts to ensure the security of LGBT+ people” said Jan Willem Goudriaan, general secretary of EPSU. “We call on employers to work with the trade unions to ensure workplaces are inclusive and workers feel safe to express themselves

You can find ILGA-Europe’s annual review here.

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